March 02, 2017

Malcolm Turnbull needs a lesson in understanding how enterprise bargaining actually works.

It’s a simple concept that Mr Turnbull appears unable to understand.

This is how enterprise bargaining works: employers, workers and unions sit down and nut out an agreement that ensures every employee, and every prospective employee, will be better off overall than if they were employed under the award. Importantly, the Fair Work Commission is the arbiter of the better off overall test, and must sign off on every enterprise agreement.

The Prime Minister fails to understand that the process of enterprise bargaining must leave workers better off overall in comparison to the award.

Maybe this misunderstanding is due to the fact that he supported the removal of this safety provision when he voted for WorkChoices.

The core of enterprise bargaining is that an award condition can only be traded off if there is an increase in another award condition. The better off overall test means that workers aren’t merely compensated for any cut to an award condition – the bargaining trade off ensures that they are better off overall than if they were on the award.

What the Prime Minister can’t seem to comprehend is that the penalty rates cut handed down last Thursday and which he explicitly said he supports, will provide absolutely no compensation to those affected. It is a direct cut to the income for up to 700,000 people.

The decision to cut award penalty rates isn’t a trade-off, it’s a rip-off.

Ordinary workers are set to lose up to $77 a week – that’s less money to pay the bills and put food on the table.

This Prime Minister never has and never will stand up for ordinary Australian workers. People should never forget that Malcolm Turnbull supported WorkChoices and now has the head WorkChoices cheerleader, Peter Hendy, as his workplace relations advisor.

The fact that in Malcolm Turnbull’s world it makes sense to give big business a $50 billion tax cut while at the same time supporting a wage cut to Australia’s lowest paid workers shows just how out of touch the Liberals are.

There could not be a worse time to cut workers’ take home pay. 

There is still time for Turnbull and his Government to change their stance and join with Labor to support the take-home pay of Australian workers.